Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wednesday, 08/31/11 Green Mountain

5 miles/2,500 vert./1:07:08 (40:50up)

Started from Chautauqua, up 1st/2nd access, up to NE ridge, Greenman and back the same way.  Was blazing hot today, high 90's but I felt decent despite.  Pushed a bit on the up, but took it conservative on the down.

Tuesday, 08/30/11 Local Run

5 easy miles (45 minutes) with Allison and the girls out to and around Harper Lake.  Then another 2 with Sierra.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Sunday, 08/28/11 Green Mountain

5 miles/2,500 vert.

Happened to pull up behind Homie at Baseline/Broadway, so I followed him into the Chautauqua lot.  We had talked earlier but could not totally agree on a plan, so we left it as "maybe I'll see you out there", so the timing was good.  It was his intent to free solo the 3rd, so we jogged the approach together, where he then changed into his climbing shoes for the class 5 climb and I hiked around up to the back of  the 3rd and hung out for 20 minutes or so.  From there, we bushwhacked up the hillside to the NE ridge, then on to the summit.  There were a few flashes of lightning, but nothing too close and it fortunately subsided enough for us to tag the summit (though a bit hurried).  As always, it was great getting out with Homie and if we had turned around at the 3rd Flatiron, it would have been a great day.

We descended via the NE ridge/1st/2nd Flatiron access and I took it pretty casual, as my right big toe was aching.  It all started when I ran Mt. Princeton back in early July, when an untested pair of shoes aggravated my big toe nails really bad on the descent.  They were a moderate distraction for over a month and were nearly healed up before Pikes Peak, but I think the 13 miles of downhill did them in.  Before this hike/run with Homie, the big toe nail on my right foot looked normal, but was just a little tender, though afterwards, it is completely purple and is very painful.  This might force a little time off, at least from running anything steep.

Ordered a new Garmin 305 today to replace my broken one.  Can hardly live without it (OK, I get by just fine, but it really adds enjoyment to my flatter baby jogger running and eases my record keeping).

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Saturday, 08/27/11 Green Mountain

Easy trip up Green today with the family, practicing/training for the double baby carry next week.

Having a summit snack



We bring sippy cups, chilled on ice, but they want to drink from our bike bottles.... (Amelie)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday, 08/26/11 Local Run

Local run, 5 miles/120 vert./45:00

Ran with the girls/baby jogger from home, out around Harper Lake, around neighborhoods and open space. Very easy effort. Wanted to go longer, but it was dinner time and I was bonking a bit toward the end, so it was just as well I did not add Davidson Mesa.

Thursday, 08/25/11 Vail Pass TT Spectating/Baby Jogger Run

I took the girls up to Vail Pass to watch the Time Trial stage of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, which involved about 8 miles of running with a ~75lb double jogger at altitude.  To avoid the parking cluster, I just drove up Shrine Pass for about 1/4 of a mile and parked next to my friend Pete who I had planned to meet there.  Pete had his bike, so he stuck with me as I started the 4 mile jog down the West side of the pass to the finish line.  1.1 miles down, I noticed that there was ample parking near the end of a frontage road near a reservoir, so I had Pete watch the girls while I jumped on his bike to go get the van, as I knew it would be a huge bonus at the end of the day to save that 1.1 miles.

Once on our way again, Pete cruised ahead, as he was on a tighter timeframe and I casually jogged down the path, appreciating the cushion of the Hoka Bondi Bs on the sometimes steep trail.  It seemed to take longer than anticipated to get to the race course, I think it was a bit longer than advertised, but I was able to get there for the 10th or so rider to start, with all the bigger names coming later as they start in reverse GC order.

I continued down the hill, negotiating the crowds the best I could with a double jogger and eventually found a nice shady spot for the girls, where I was able to watch the race 10 feet away and still be able to keep close tabs on them.  We spent a bit over 2 hours watching the riders go by at 1, then 2 minute intervals and as the race progressed, the riders got progressively faster, to the point where it seemed almost surreal how fast they were going.  Somewhere in the middle, Buzz walked by and I called him out, so we watched together for a bit.

The crowds were absolutely insane.  It was just what I would imagine a stage of the Tour to be like, as thousands of rabid cycling fans went absolutely bat shit crazy, screaming, blowing horns, ringing bells, running in silly costumes..... the whole shebang.  It was AWESOME.

After the second to last rider (Hincapie) went through, I positioned myself strategically at the juction of the bike path ahead of the crowds, ready to bolt as soon as I heard the race leader's time.  Once he came in, I took off running up the hill. 

This turned out to be one of the most intense challenging runs I have ever done.  It was the perfect storm of conditions to get me fired up to push. 

  • I was eager to get to the top in front of the masses and not be stuck in traffic. 
  • The clouds were looking quite ominous on top of the pass where we were going and I was worried about getting the girls stormed on.
  • I was fired up after watching the bike race, sort of like walking out of the theater after watching Rocky or Without Limits.
  • And thus I was feeling extremely competetive, even though I was competing with bikes.
  • I got TONS of positive and encouraging comments from the riders passing me by which inspired me to dig deep.
  • But most of all, this had been a long day for the girls and they started getting a bit fussy and I needed to get them food and naps.
So, I really dug in and upped the cadence/tempo, passing some cyclists, holding off other cyclists and was totally in the mix.  It was an awesome feeling to be pushing so hard and feeling so good and when I saw the car, I was simultaneously relieved (for the sake of the babies mostly), but part of me wanted to keep hammering for several more miles.  The girls did extemely well despite a little fussing at the end and I just missed the rain, as we got poured on minutes after getting in the car (no lightning though).  I really want to go back up there soon and run the entire pass, as it is such an incredible workout.

Amelie (l), Isabelle (r), they nearly stole the show and got a ton of attention and pictures taken

Very proud dad

A beautiful day in the mountains, perfect for a bike race

Amelie getting a closeup of the racers

Local boy, Tim Duggan

Ivan Basso


Lance was walking around saying "See this jersey!  Doesn't anyone know who I am!!??"

The owners of this tent were gracious enough to offer up shade for the girls.  They made many friends throughout the day.

Frank Schlek

Video of Andy Schlek

Andy Schlek from Jeff Valliere on Vimeo.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tuesday, 08/23/11 Green Mountain

Up/Down Front 4.03 miles/2,326 vert./1:10:18 (41:25 up)

After a much needed rest day yesterday, I was itching to get on the trails again today just for the fun of it and even though it was blazing hot, for some reason I actually enjoyed the heat today for a change.  My legs were tired, but my mental energy was good and I felt decent on the climb, yet still went easy as there was really no reason to push.  The descent was a bit more slow and deliberate, as my quads and feet are still a little sore.

2 days after Pikes I am feeling a combination of relief that the race is over mixed with a bit of sadness that it has already passed.  I really had more fun running the Pikes Peak Marathon (my first marathon) than I have any other race and really look forward to doing it again.

In the near term, I am looking forward to running Vail Pass on Thursday with the twins to spectate the USA Pro Cycling Challenge and cheer on the World's best cyclists.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Monday, 08/22/11 2011 Pikes Peak Marathon Full Report

Pikes Peak Marathon
26.21 miles
7,815 vertical
4:52:08 (2:57:21 Ascent)
20th place out of 728 finishers
4th Master (award, but really 6th Master)

What an awesome day I had running the Pikes Peak Marathon. I felt it to be a far greater challenge than the Ascent and even though for much of the descent I swore I would NEVER do it again, within an hour I was looking forward to the following year.  Here is the full version of my race as best I can recall.

After joining Homie for the pre-race spaghetti dinner and banquet, I spent the night at my good friend Hoot's house in Colorado Springs and it was lights out at 8:57pm. Not long after, it was thundering and lightening which kept me up until at least 10, as I wondered if the mountain was getting snow and if the weather would be good in the morning. I awoke to use the bathroom a bit after midnight, fell back to sleep and then was wide awake at 2:30am, where I tossed and turned for another hour and a half, listening to my heart thump and pound in nervous anticipation, so I just gave in and got up. I was in a bit of a stupor as I got ready and was thankful that I had laid everything out in order the previous evening.

I was out the door a little after 5am and found a great parking spot near the start line by 5:30, where I took my time getting ready, ate my breakfast (a banana, peanut butter toast and yogurt/granola with strawberries and blueberries). I found it interesting to observe other's styles of pre-race preparation and contrast it with my own. One younger guy in particular caught my eye nearby, performing some impressive sprints and plyometric moves that I would describe as boot camp meets dancing with the stars. I was not sure if the dude was going to give Matt a run for his money, or if the showmanship on the field would be the athletic highlight of his day (turned out to be the latter). My routine was much more subdued and involved a series of trips to the portajohns, with mandatory stops at Homie’s van to discuss weather and gear choice.

Shaping up to be a great day (though a bit warm at the end)

With 25 minutes to go before the start, I headed over to the line and met up with GZ for a bit of a last minute warm up, which really involved a bit of nervous chatter and of course looking for yet another last minute bathroom opportunity.

The final minutes on the start line were a little nervous, but not really all that bad, as I was just eager to get going with the run and let the suffering begin.

Saying hi to Ward (following 7 photos courtesy of

Sean, Brad, Ward, me, GZ

GZ, me, Matt C


Bang!!  BOOOOM!!

Just one hill to go!

The gun went off, followed by a loud cannon which totally caught me off guard. I settled into a decent rhythm, maybe in 25-30th spot, not letting my adrenaline get the best of me. I went really conservative up Ruxton, picking off a few people here and there, but kept reminding myself to keep it slow and steady. Once on the dirt, my legs were really feeling good and I slowly and steadily continued to pass more and more runners through the Ws, where I eventually settled in with a group of 3 or 4 other runners and we would stay pretty much within sight of one another all the way to the summit.

We kept a steady and very controlled pace all of the way through Barr Camp and I did a good job taking gels every 45 minutes or less and drank a 10oz bottle of water between almost every aid station. Above Barr Camp, I went through a little bit of a bad patch, but instead of trying to keep forcing it, I backed off and took care of myself a bit with a gel, water and S-caps which seemed to do the trick and by the time I got to treeline, I was feeling particularly good and able to run just about every step. I could see a fair number of guys ahead and got to work catching and passing many of them. Matt passed me on his descent just below the Cirque aid station and he was moving fast as expected and had a significant lead over Daryn. I was surprised at how far up the mountain I got before I began counting the leaders on their descent.

Running through the Cirque Aid Station (John Garner photo)

I became increasingly aware as I approached the summit that my placing was higher than I thought and many of those ahead of me were not that far ahead. I topped out in 12th place and was feeling strong, confident and excited to get rolling on the downhill. I was delayed a moment on the top, as the volunteers had to mark my bib (as I had somehow lost both of my tags, one on the final 5 minutes) and I was a little slow to fill my bottle (wanting a 50/50 mix of Gatorade and water).

I took off down the hill, bursting with overconfidence and enthusiasm and was eager to catch and pass as many guys ahead of me as I could. For what seemed like the first time during a race on Pikes Peak, my competitive juices were flowing full force and I really wanted that Masters win and was ready to fight for it.

Little did I know at the time how bad the descent would hurt.  Overconfidence is an understatement.

Within the first mile of the descent, I caught 11th place and we both caught and passed 10th place. A few times, I tried to get past the new 10th place, but he quickly got a second wind below the Cirque aid station and I was now having trouble staying on his heels. At about that time, Sean O’day came cranking by both of us, showing some really mean downhilling ability and I shouted encouragement, knowing that he was racing for a top 10 finish and a victory for the double.

Now back in 12th position, I ran closely with 11th and 13th all the way to treeline and felt like we were moving pretty well. I traded places with 13th at the A-Frame aid where I stopped for a moment to gulp fluids from a cup. I got going again and was starting to feel crampy (quads and abdomen), but pressed on the best I could. Within the next mile or so, I was passed and moved down to 14th, then 15th, 16th, 17th and then Brett Wilson passed to put me in 18th near the Bottomless Pit jct. They all passed me like I was standing still, as I slowly picked my way through the rocks, seemingly slower than when I ran up. I was sure that my chance of putting in a solid performance was completely gone and I braced myself for the onslaught of runners to pass me by as I choked on a mouthful of Margarita Shot Bloks and S-caps. Nothing was going down well though and my stomach was feeling really unsettled as I contemplated pulling over to puke.

Once below Barr Camp, I felt a little better on the less technical trail and was able to rally a bit and increase my foot speed, but I was still suffering bad and each mile(s) to go sign seemed to be taunting me, I could hardly even look at them. I got passed again just prior to the Bob’s Road aid station and was now in 19th, but despite this, was starting to have visions of holding onto my C goal of top 20. The temperature continued to increase and I was still unable to drink or take anything in, though fortunately I was OK on food (5 gels on the up and 1/3 of a Shot Blok package on the down seemed to be plenty), but I was feeling more and more dehydrated and nauseous and now using the aid stations just to dump water over my head.

Just after I passed the 2nd to last aid station near the top of the Ws, I could hear commotion and cheering, so I looked up to see GZ (whom I consider to be one of my closest friends) one switchback above and closing in fast. I was not at all happy to be passed yet again, but I was simultaneously happy for George to have recovered enough to put in a good descent. As was clear on this day, it was way too soon to count him out and I knew better. I tried to hold him off, as we were both competing for a Masters award, but it was only in my mind, as I just could not muster up any more physical energy or effort and was in total survival mode at this point. He passed quickly and encouraged me to stick with him, which I also tried, but again, it was all in my mind, no matter how hard I willed my body to pick up the pace.

The switchbacks were seemingly endless and my feet were feeling sore and blistered. I had rarely looked at my watch on the descent, but I was now checking it frequently and thinking about my finishing time. I knew I would break 5 hours (another C goal), but I was more concerned about not getting passed. Once on the pavement, for the first time in the race, I began checking over my shoulder to see if anybody was sneaking up on me. I never saw anybody, which was great, though it probably would not have mattered, as I don’t think I had anything more to give. The final mile was the longest I have ever run and the cheering crowds really helped get me through, but was tough to savor at the time as I had tunnel vision and could only think of getting to the line.

Not striding it out very well at all.

I was so happy and relieved to finally cross the finish line and felt like it was the hardest run I had ever done. The volunteers in the finish tent ushered me to a chair and offered me drinks and ice, but all I could do was lean forward with my head in my hands, not knowing whether to sit, stand or lay down. After a few minutes, I got up, leaned over a nearby trash can and threw up repeatedly into it. One of the paramedics noticed this and escorted me to a cot in the back of the tent to lay down and give me oxygen, where George happened to be in the same position. We laughed and exchanged war stories while we recovered until we were eventually able to hobble along to the outside world.

Though I fell a bit short of my primary goals, I still feel very satisfied to have been in the mix and competitive for at least a significant portion of the run. I also feel very satisfied that I did not give up when I felt so terrible for so much of the descent and fought really hard to limit my losses. In my mind, I think I ran a pretty reasonable ascent and for the most part it felt almost easy.  I am sure I could have given much more, but I tried my best to be conscious about saving some energy for the long descent. As I reflect, I do question, what (if any) difference my conservative approach on the ascent had on my descent. I wonder if I had pushed a 5 or 10 minute faster ascent, I would have had the same outcome going down, just with a bit more of a time cushion. Or maybe I would have imploded worse? Hard to say for sure.

I think my performance was generally in line with my fitness and training (or lack thereof) this year and I think that if I honestly expect to do better next year, I will have to be a little more committed to training. I also think that being familiar with what it takes to run up Pikes Peak, then 13 miles back down will also help. I had a lot of respect for what it would take to run this race going into it, but now I have an entirely newfound appreciation.

For my efforts, I was happy to collect a 4th place Masters trophy and a free entry to next year’s race (ascent or marathon), where at this point at least, I am eager to run the marathon again.

Post race, I had a great time hanging out with and talking to Homie, Kunkle, George Z, Scott E, Sean O, Matt C amongst many others. I was also totally stoked for both Homie and Kunkle who each had a great race, setting PRs and also earning 4th place trophies in their age divisions and of course George, for getting that nice big 3rd place Masters trophy.

One of my best buds, George.  Not sure if our friendship made it more or less painful to be passed by him so close to the end, but his support, friendship and vote of confidence going into this race helped me push harder than I might have otherwise.  Either way, I have much respect for his accomplishments and enthusiasm for this race.  Thanks George.

Today (one day after the race), my quads are a little sore, but I feel relatively good and am proud to be able to skip stairs 2 at a time up and down.


Ruxton:  2:53 ish
Hydro: 9:30ish
Top of Ws: 32:07
No Name:  47:50
Bobs Road: 1:01
Barr: 1:23:50
3 to go:  2:01
2 to go:  ??
1 to go:  ??
Summit:  2:57:21

No splits on the descent, I just occasionally glanced at my watch without any thought or committing times to memory.

PPM awards table

GZ and I chatting it up with the two undisputed greats of Pikes Peak with a whopping 26 wins between them.  It is humbling hanging out with these two.  Scott is the only person to have beaten Matt up Pikes Peak on one occasion back in the 90's.

Blurry shot of me getting my award.

GZ is familiar with this process.

Top 5 Masters.  I hope to climb up a few steps next year!

Kunkle on the left with award in hand.

Homie and Kunkle

Homie collecting his award, couldn't have been happier for him.

The race was fun and the award is sweet, but these two are my real prizes.  Maybe as a tribute to them, I should D-D-D-double next year?